James Burnham, sous chef at Mombo in Portsmouth, is in charge of the award-winning charcuterie program. Making bacon safely at home requires curing salt, also known as Pink Salt or Prague Powder#1, a mixture of table salt and sodium nitrite, which inhibits the growth of bacteria and prevent botulism. Curing salt is not meant to be consumed directly or substituted for any other kind of salt in any recipe. (It is very different from Himalayan pink salt, which won’t work in curing.) Curing salts can be purchased in specialty food shops and online and should be stored separately from all other kitchen salts.
Adapted from James Burnham of Mombo
Makes 2 pounds
2 pounds pork belly, skin off
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup honey
¼ cup bourbon
1 teaspoon curing salt
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoons loose-leaf black tea or tea from 4 tea bags
1. Rinse the pork belly and pat it dry. Trim off any thin edges to shape the belly into an even rectangle.
2. In a medium bowl, combine sugar, honey, bourbon, curing salt, kosher salt, pepper, and tea to form a thin paste. Wearing rubber gloves, rub the paste evenly over the pork belly. Place in a sealable plastic bag and press as much air out of the bag as possible when sealing.
3. Refrigerate the pork overnight. The next morning, massage the pork belly in the bag, ﬂip the bag over, and return to the fridge. Do this every day for a week. After a week the pork belly should be ﬁrm to the touch all over; if not, refrigerate for another 1 to 2 days.
4. Once the pork belly is ﬁrm, it is fully cured. Rinse off the cure paste with cold water and pat the cured belly dry.
5. To ﬁnish the bacon, you can smoke it or roast it. For a smoky ﬂavor, use a smoker or the cool side of a grill to cook until the bacon reaches an internal temperature of 150°F. Alternately, roast it in a 200°F oven to reach the internal temperature of 150°F, about 1 hour. Cool the bacon to room temperature, then wrap tightly and refrigerate or freeze it. To use, slice off strips of bacon and fry them as needed.